This is one of those clip ’n’ save sort of columns where you’ll want to discreetly tear out this page because you will want to try out these programs.
Lyric Rat (www.lyricrat.com): Have you ever been in an argument with friends over who does a certain song? Send whatever lyrical fragment you can recall to this free Twitter application (@LyricRat) and it will reply with the title, the artist and a link where you can read more. Great for settling bar bets.
Shazam (www.iTunes.com): When a cheesy retro song from the ’80s came on in a bar in Singapore where I was visiting with friends, a debate broke out over the name of the artist. I just whipped out my iPhone, cranked up my free Shazam app and within seconds, I had the answer. Shazam uses your iPhone mic to “listen” to a song and then compares it to a master database. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough to make you reconsider the existence of magic. (By the way, the song was Who’s Johnny by El Debarge.)
Songkick (www.songkick.com): I once had an idea for a concert wiki where everyone could upload set lists and reviews for every concert ever performed. Turns out that someone had the same (but better) idea. Songkick allows members to add details of any show to a vast, growing database of gigs past. The number of catalogued shows is approaching 1.1 million.
Space Oddity Remixer (www.iTunes.com): Bowie’s career was going nowhere until the BBC started using Space Oddity in their coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of man on the moon, a new app from iKlax allows iPhone users (or with Garageband on the Mac) to try and improve on the original Major Tom story by remixing it. Think the vocals should be tweaked? The mellotron part was always too loud for you? Fix it. Lots of fun for $1.99.
The Tuesday Guide (tuesdayguide.blogspot.com): In Canada, 99 per cent of all new releases come out on Tuesdays. Wouldn’t it be great to automatically get a list of the week’s new CDs, complete with artwork, mini-reviews and links to buy the downloads? The Toronto-based Tuesday Guide takes care of all the details. You can either visit the website or, as I do, sign up for the weekly newsletter. Indispensable.